5 Things to Prepare Children For Success

Karen Patten

I hear it from friends and read about it all the time: anxiety over whether or not children are prepared for success. Are we doing all we can to prepare children for success? What should we be doing to prepare children for success?

What are 5 things parents can do to prepare children for success? Help prepare your children for life long satisfaction and success - easier than you think! www.themidlifemamas.com

When my friend Hillary, at The Cole Mines, shared her thoughts about not giving her girls chores, her post truly gave me pause. (Ok, so before I was given pause, I sucked most of the air out of the room…) How could children learn responsibility or be successful if they aren’t given any age appropriate chores? But now, I’m reconsidering my thoughts on the issue. She included a touching quote from her mother:

“…the reason I have never given you chores is that, from where I sit, your job as a child is to BE a child.  To enjoy the simple things.  To play.  To laugh.  To have fun.  To enjoy this carefree state for as long as you can.  To focus on school and extracurriculars.  To find a hobby you love.  To encourage your passions in life.  To own the responsibility the world will throw at you even from a young age.  But not to throw more at you by creating mundane lists of things you need to “do” at home.”

That is the mother I want to be. Hillary feels that giving her children chores will thrust them into an adult world devoid of magic and filled with responsibilities that they will be required to enter soon enough. And once you enter, once you cross over from childhood, you can’t go back. Think: Hotel California.

As I think about how I’ve approached mothering, teaching my boys the harder lessons has been my approach to everything. The world will provide the rest soon enough. As an example, my son’s first birthday cake was his first ever taste of refined sugar. I assumed sugar is easy enough to like – it’s my job to teach him to also like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. The world will take care of cake.

As a result, I find myself worrying less about how “prepared” my children are and more about how quickly everyone wants them to experience adult responsibilities and complexities. But the truth is, I can address both concerns by giving my children one simple thing. Letting my boys hold on to their childhood with five easy strategies gives them exactly what they need to be prepared for their next steps in life! So here are my suggestions for helping children be prepared for satisfaction and success:

Free Play to Prepare Children for Success

 

Free play, not organized play, is the cornerstone of learning for all children. Free play is declining both in our schools and in our society as a whole. Free play isn’t an organized soccer game or activity or even play date “organized” by parents. Free play is the opportunity for our children to decide upon and direct the play themselves.

By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the chance that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and various other mental disorders. – Peter Gray

Boredom to Prepare Children for Success

When my boys come to me and say they are bored, I don’t feel that I have to jump to entertain them. I feel that it is their job to problem solve and to find something to do. My boys are hardly lacking in things to entertain themselves with. They just need to develop their problem solving abilities to find a solution. I actually find that, as the saying goes: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When they are bored, they rarely turn to their toys. They typically invent their most interesting and exciting games  as a solution to boredom! Admittedly, their games involve catapults, or weapons, but that’s ok!

Stillness to Prepare Children for Success

Children need the free time to be able to find their passion – to hear and listen to the stirrings of their heart’s delight. But how can they find that passion, that fire, if they don’t have any moments of stillness to listen to themselves? Encourage them to have quiet moments throughout the day so they can start to hear this inner voice. (Quiet time isn’t a bad deal for you, either!)

Imagination to Prepare Children for Success

I admit, I have a hard time doing imaginative things like turning acorns into an army of people to play with. But we’ve always tried to foster an environment where the boys are free to learn to do just that. I love to hear them talk about their ideas when they are collecting things. I often think of my parents who grew up during the Great Depression. They didn’t have the luxury of toys, so they learned to be creative and inventive. They learned to take things that were basically nothing and turn them into the grandest of toys using only their imaginations. And this is how new ideas are born! Nothing can ever be invented unless it is first imagined. Give your children the gift of imagination.

Limited Screen Time to Prepare Children for Success

Groan… I know you’ve heard this until you can’t hear it any more. I have one really simple “rule” about screen time. You aren’t allowed to “use” it for anything. If you are “using” it because you are bored, then no. If you are “using” it because you’re lonely, then no. If I’m “using” it as a distraction or as a babysitter, then no. It’s simple and the boys typically understand it. It helps them to be more aware of when and why they ask to watch something. And it helps them to be more aware of themselves and their motivations.

So back to whether or not you are doing all you can to prepare your child. Believe it or not, these are the very things that will prepare your child for all the life and academic lessons that she needs to learn later. Almost every teacher out there will tell you that they would much rather have a child in their classroom who has learned self regulation, cooperation, and empathy than one who can write her name.

Allowing my boys to maintain the innocence of childhood for as long as possible – letting them see all the magic and love in the world – prepares them better than anything else to be contributing, thoughtful, loving citizens of the world. So, the innocence of childhood is alive and well in our home!

16 Comments

  1. Bernadyn on September 23, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Helpful tips and thanks for sharing that point of view about chores. I love the rule about screen time, should start using that for my kids, too 🙂 Visiting from Inspired Bloggers Network on FB.



    • Karen Patten on September 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy my little corner of the blogosphere and will stop by again 🙂



  2. Natasha on September 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I love your overall blog! Pretty colors! Now, this post is so needed. We often stress out about our children but that’s usually because we aren’t taking focused steps. This is a great post to help parents out! Great work!



    • Karen Patten on September 23, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you so much for you kind words! Your blog is lovely too – thank you so much for stopping by! I’m following you to keep up with all that you’re sharing!



  3. Hillary Cole on September 23, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Such good points! The basis for that saying “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” is just so accurate. The education “stuff” will come on its own time…respect for each other, kindness, etc…that’s what you need!



    • Karen Patten on September 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      I completely agree!!! Thanks for sharing your mom’s wisdom!



  4. Lisa/Syncopated Mama on October 19, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Hooray for free play! And I really like your consideration for screen time – it kind of reminds me of something I’ve heard for food, too – to do little check-ins, “Am I still hungry, or am I eating out of boredom or to fill an emotional need?”



    • Karen Patten on October 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

      There just isn’t enough free play, is there? Why is that?? I think people don’t see the value in it any more. Boo 🙁 My boys come up with their most clever games when they are playing on their own!



  5. Jenn on October 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    This is definitely great food for thought! I don’t know how I feel about the whole chores thing. I think I lean towards at least helping my son understand his responsibilities, like to clean up after himself. At some point, there will be chores, but not until he’s older. I love these tips on helping your child to use his/her imagination and think outside the box! The best tip, I think, is not to “use” TV or gadgets for anything – what a great idea. I mean, how often do I “use” the TV because I am bored? Great post!



    • Karen Patten on October 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      I still wonder about the chores thing too! I don’t assign chores or have a chore chart or anything like that. And I don’t designate anything as a “chore.” But both of my boys know that when I ask them to help out, they are expected to do it. Joyfully. I explain that we all have our jobs in our family and one of theirs is to help out when asked. It’s just part of being in our family. So they do help out, but I think it’s made it less of a “chore” or something they complain about. Which has been really nice!



  6. Clare Speer on October 20, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Great post – I think kids should be kids! Let them enjoy this time and enjoy their “free time” and “boredom” – it will only come around once in their life, after all!!!!



  7. Dermot on October 20, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I love it when my kids tell me they’re bored. Occasionally I will suggest something creative they can do, sometimes we’ll play together and sometimes I’ll give them a chore (sharp intake of breath 🙂 )like cleaning out the toy room. they don’t usually get far cleaning, they usually end up playing with toys they had all-but forgotten about…



    • Karen Patten on October 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      I love the cleaning strategy!! I bet they get distracted and start playing with those toys in under 30 minutes! Hahaha!



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Hi, I’m Karen, the Atlanta mama, writer, and creator at Intentional Family Life. I’m a passionate advocate for intentional living so that you can experience all that you deserve for yourself and your family. Here, I inspire moms to chose what matters most and then to only do the things that move them closer to what matters most. Read More About Karen…

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